Estate planning is the best way to make sure that you and your loved ones are provided for in the way you envision after you pass away. Estate planning can include a large variety of documents, such as a Will, trust (either revocable or irrevocable), living will, durable general power of attorney, medical durable power of attorney, and declaration of disposition of last remains. In the best of situations, these documents help to ensure that the people you love and trust receive the assets from your estate. Unfortunately, not all family situations are peaceful, and unfortunately, disinheriting specific relatives is a common issue in drafting a Will.
While disinheriting a relative may sound harsh, in reality the people making these decisions have carefully considered it and have come to the conclusion that this is the best decision in the context of their overall estate plan. Disinheriting certain relatives is possible, but you need to consult an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure it is done correctly. For example, if you have three children and wish to disinherit only one of them, there is very particular phrasing that should be present in your Will to make sure it is clear that you did not inadvertently omit that child from your Will. If it can be argued that it was an unintentional omission, that person will have better grounds to challenge your Will.
Disinheriting a spouse is not as simple as just stating in your Will that you leave nothing for your spouse. Again, there are a number of specific estate planning strategies that call for leaving a spouse out of your Will. Usually it is because the spouse has been provided for in other ways, or there are blended family considerations. Colorado Revised Statutes § 15-11-202 provides for what is referred to as a spouse’s “elective share.” This statute provides that a surviving spouse can elect to take a certain amount of the deceased spouse’s estate. This is true even if the deceased spouse specifically states in his or her Will that the surviving spouse should receive nothing from the deceased spouse’s estate. In other words, it is not possible for the dying spouse to completely disinherit the surviving spouse, barring special circumstances.
It is also important to note that it is possible to disinherit parents, siblings, cousins or any other relative. An important step is to retain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that the wording in your Will or trust (as the case may be) makes your wishes clear and legally enforceable.
If you have questions about your estate planning goals, call us today. We can meet with you to discuss your options.